December 21, 2018

Human Rights Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

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The UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948. Seventy years later, we have reason to ask how we view human rights today and whether the principles stated in the declaration have remained the same. The December issue of Diplomaatia is dedicated to the current state of human rights.

Mart Nutt writes about the principles involved in the Declaration: “Human rights have been in a constant flux. New rights, especially social and collective ones, have emerged. Developments related to information technology and social media are new; privacy, identity and well-being are relevant issues today. The relationship between artificial intelligence and human rights will also probably be the subject of discussion,” he writes.

Oliver Loode and Mart Hellam comment on Nutt’s article.

Diplomaatia interviews Yevgen Zakharov, one of the most well-known advocates of human rights in Ukraine today and the leader of the local Helsinki group. “Let me emphasise that when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on 10 December 1948, the Soviet Union and its satellites didn’t participate in the vote,” notes Zakharov. “The document was adopted only owing to the flexibility of the Allies.”

Karl Lembit Laane, a student of constitutional law, believes Estonia has a moral duty to help refugees. “Albeit we are relatively poor compared to Western European countries, we are still one of the most highly developed countries in the world and among the ‘golden billion’”, he writes. “When Lebanon has been forced to accept 1.5 million refugees (nearly a quarter of its population), how could Poland (which is 1.5 times richer per capita), Estonia (about twice as wealthy) or Austria (5.5 times richer) refuse to help—not to mention Western Europe?”.

Nuryan Alijev looks at “spy”-hunting in Russia. “Arrests in different regions are becoming more common in 2018,” he says. “People are being taken to Lefortovo prison in Moscow under FSB supervision. Detention in custody is sanctioned by the Lefortovo district court. The public and journalists often found out about new “traitors and spies” by chance from representatives of the Public Monitoring Commission, who also meet them accidentally while monitoring prisons.”

Piret Kuusik reviews recently published books on international policy.

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